Overcoming Powerlessness And Hopelessness

by Sam Abbd Israel

(An Open Letter To Nigerians In The Diaspora – Part Vi)

Dear Fellow Nigerian in the Diaspora

When we wrote the first letter titled, A Wake Up Call to Nigerians in the Diaspora, we had no idea that it would stretch this far. We would like to apologise sincerely for boring some of you with our pedestrian ideas. We would also like to say we are sorry, to all those who felt offended by our audacity to forward unsolicited letters to their mailboxes. The passion to share the Good News that came our way temporarily caused a lapse in judgement. We respect the rights of everyone to freedom and privacy.

Under no circumstances shall we support any action that would wilfully break or bend these rights for any reason. The dilemma we faced with respect to mail distribution is similar to that faced by fire brigades. Does a fire brigade officer seeing a house on fire follow the customary civilised habit of knocking on the door and waiting for answer before rescuing those in danger? On the contrary, it is the only time any Good Samaritan can barge into any house without giving notice. The issues facing us as peoples and nations are as critical and dangerous as a house on fire. Indeed the House of British Nigeria is on fire. Our main concern is not to extinguish the fire but to save the people trapped inside it.

As we mentioned, we were carried away with the zeal to share what we believe is highly relevant to the problems bedevilling us as peoples. However, as soon as we were reminded, some nicely and some not so nicely, we quickly desisted. So far, we have been very fortunate that most Nigeria-interest Web sites accepted, without question, to publish the letters. We thank them for saving the day since it made the strategy of targeting personal mailboxes no longer necessary.

We hope to make this the last letter to Nigerians in the Diaspora (NIDs). We would like to thank all those who have taken the time to read all the letters. We sincerely hope you found something of benefit to your personal circumstances. The letters are not the answers to the problems of Nigeria. They are keys principally designed to enable you open the door to the pool of knowledge floating around you like a cloud in the sky. It will even be preposterous to claim that these letters are solutions to our individual problems. They are not. As was mentioned in one of the letters, they are mere flickers of light to help you see where you hid the lighter and the candle of your life.

In the previous five letters we have not wavered from our main concerns: to promote the rights of every Nigerian to equality, justice and freedom. These are the crux of the issues facing humanity and Nigeria in particular at this moment in history. We are aware that philosophers are still debating and looking for the easiest way to dumb down these concepts to suit our modern day relativity circumstances. There are theses and anti-theses, for instance on the concept and principle of equality that try to ascertain whether it is the equality of person or the equality of opportunities that is important for government policy and programme.

Modern philosophers and analysts are fond of debating whether there can be anything like absolute equality among human beings. They wonder if it is ever possible in practice to ask the royalties of our world to accept the ideals and the practices of natural equality with the commoners in their realm. They ask if it is feasible for the fat cats and business barons to accept that they are equal in every respect to the floor shop assistants in their business empires. Can the elected politicians – Presidents, Prime Ministers, Senators, Members of Parliament, Councillors, and other Representatives – accept both in theory and in practice the democratic and natural fact of their equal status with the electorate? Notwithstanding this type of academic but anti-nature polemics, these letters have tried to situate our conviction about the commonality of humanity. They have tried to point NIDs in the direction of seeking the truth of the concepts of equality, justice and freedom from available universal principles of the nature of human being and existence.

What we plan to do in this final letter is to discuss the reality of powerlessness and hopelessness of the Nigeria’s situations to NIDs and of course to most other Nigerians. It is very easy for most Nigerians to hide under powerlessness as the main inhibiting factor against the fight for equality, justice and freedom. As it is true for the common people so it is for the eminent personalities of Nigeria. The popular excuse of the common people is that since they are financially poor they have no power to change their circumstances. The eminent people also believe that unless they can capture the political power of their societies, they are powerless to influence social change. The two premises of assessment, to our thinking, are faulty because they assume that power lies in financial, material and political muscles. On the contrary, we believe true power is spiritual and it is within each of us. It is a divine right possessed by every living creature.

This discourse is relevant because we understand the sighs of hopelessness and powerlessness that most NIDs have expressed when we brought up the issue of a social revolution in Nigeria. Most NIDs are of reasonable opinion that Nigeria’s problem is beyond solution. They look at some of us fretting about Nigeria with pity in their eyes. They advise us to get a life. Meaning, join the rat race, make money, be happy and enjoy yourself. Do not kill your self because of Nigeria. If you die Nigeria’s problem will still be there and you would have died for nothing. From the human and physical perspectives, they are quite right. However, the reality of existence is deeper than that. We are what we are by creation. The environments where we find ourselves have a way of delaying or hastening our emancipation from the physical to the spiritual. The issue facing humanity today is spiritual. It is beyond the physical observable realities. These are the salient trends in these letters and our overriding aim is to help NIDs into the spiritual state of evaluation of values.

Circumstances of Nigerians in the Diaspora
The NIDs are in various categories of circumstances and at different planes of social existence. Each of the categories can again be sub-divided into two. There are academically and professionally qualified NIDs and there are unqualified NIDs. There are those qualified with jobs commensurate to their qualifications and training and those qualified but saddled with irrelevant menial and miserable jobs. There are the financially secure or the relatively ‘wealthy’ and there are the financially insecure or the in and out poor. There are those without dependent family in Nigeria and who are free from financial commitment and those with large dependent family and relations who look to them for monthly offerings. There are those with balanced and supportive family and those with dysfunctional and non-supportive family. And there are those that have burnt the strings of all entanglements with Nigeria and those that sleep and wake with the thoughts of finding solution to the problems facing the peoples of Nigeria.

Despite these different and varied circumstances, every thinking NID must have noticed that in the context of freedom there is nothing significantly different between a rich black slave and a poor black slave. Regardless of the pretensions of the rich black slave the colour of your skin is still a veritable hindrance to complete social acceptability into the ‘civilised societies’ of the West. At few times when the white population tolerate and allow the rich black slave to mix socially with them it is often a patronising gesture. It is simply to fulfil the legal requirements of ethnic minority tokenism or what the Americans called Affirmative Actions on race relations. It is our hope that the truth of life shall soon dawn on the swaggering black slave in the inner chamber of Uncle Sam’s White House or in the Crown’s palaces to appreciate that his/her circumstances are not particularly different from that of the poor black slave in the pigsty or ghetto. From the viewpoint of the western value both the rich and the poor black person is seen as slaves or sub-human persons and both are in need of freedom – mental and spiritual emancipation.

This writer writes in pain and in sorrow because of pertinent observations made about the life styles of NIDs. The circumstances under which NIDs live give me immeasurable agony and grief. The circumstance of living under colour prejudice, racial discrimination, social indignity, psychological and cultural slavery is serious psychological torture. The circumstance of accepting inferiority complex, mediocrity and thoughtlessness, spiritual blindness and deafness as normal is dehumanising. The unforgivable carelessness on the part of NIDs to appreciate, protect and safeguard their human dignity and the unacceptable high level of ignorance of the facts of history and of contemporary events around them have never ceased to give me sleepless nights. Personally each day spent in sojourn is as a day spent in a prison cell. There is no doubt that the physical environment is pleasing to the eyes but the reigning spirit in the Western world is anti-human, anti-social and anti-nature. It is a spirit that covertly dehumanises the people and demands absolute servitude and blind obedience to unethical and immoral values.

Miraculously, it is under this spiritual darkness that heaven was kind enough to cure me of my blindness and deafness. Whereas this writer was once blind to the forces in charge of this environment now he can see. He was once completely ignorant of the atrocities of the reigning forces but now he understands. It is this awareness that brings forth personal anguish when one beholds the contemporaries of the Class of 1980s and 1990s that fled from tyranny in Nigeria who have quickly imbibed and adjusted to the lifestyles of those responsible for the decadence in Nigeria. Fellow sojourners who have not taken time out to seek and to search for the truth of the root cause of the problems of Nigeria have woefully failed to see the link between the western values – of conspicuous and excessive consumption, of might is right, of winner-takes-all, of extreme individualism, of superiority complex, of beggar your neighbour for profit, of centre-periphery economic ideology and relations, of pyramidal and hierarchical social arrangement that fosters inequality, etc. – and the failed government and failed economic systems of Nigeria.

This writer is of the opinion that NIDs in foreign lands should use their sojourn as opportunities to unravel the human and social misery that is killing Nigeria and her people. There is no reason why NIDs should not turn the daily inhuman experiences in to a driving force to pursue the search for the truth of life. It is under this pursuit that NIDs can have a lead to some understanding of the nature of spiritual demons responsible for our woes. There is no reason why NIDs should not turn the ongoing unpalatable experiences facing black persons in the Western world into a motivating factor for seeking ways and means to wrestle and overcome the reigning demons mentally and spiritually. Methinks it is the height of irresponsibility and ignominious naiveté for any Nigerian of the class of 80s and 90s currently in sojourn abroad to become complacent, contented and conceited just because he has secured a fantastic job, a palatial mansion, a prestigious limousine and plenty of cash in the land of sojourn.

There was a time in the early stage of my sojourn when everything about Nigeria was repulsive, when this writer planned to run away as far as possible, and when the idea of carrying a Nigerian passport was becoming irritating and shameful. By the grace of heaven this phase passed away as the search for the truth of my existence first as a human being, second as a native of the geographical space called Nigeria and third as an African progressed. The more this writer searched the more he found ample reasons to be happy and contented with himself, first as an African, second as a native of the geographical space called Nigeria, and third as a human being. It is the need to share the result of these findings that motivated my current engagement as an amateur freelance writer.

Since this writer came into mental and spiritual consciousness there has been a burning desire to motivate and to inspire every African to appreciate the circumstances of our existence in the Global Economic Order, Global Religious Order and Global Social Order. There is a burning missionary desire to ignite every African with the fire of a seeker of the truth of life. It is my belief that heaven has set my soul on fire in order to share the Good News that our world can be redeemed, can be cleaned, and can be reconstructed on a new plane of moral values and edifying spirit.

It should be mentioned that because the current hideous spirit has ruled the world for some thousands of years should not dampen the resolve of all spiritually enlightened people to overcome this spirit and to drive it out of our planet. The reigning spirit is a ruinous spirit. This spirit is discriminatory, jealous, partisan, unforgiving, ruthless, blood thirsty, sectarian, divisive, and hateful. These are the true nature of the reigning spirit. This spirit cannot change hence it must be ordered out of our planet. We must urge it to seek residence in the many vacant and desolate planets in the universe. We must appeal to the creator of life to persuade this spirit to leave us alone in peace so as to be able to pursue the noble goals of seeking perfection and of bringing the kingdom of heaven to our planet.

It is in this context that NIDs are urged to understand their circumstances. The reigning spirit in the Western world understands your divine mission. And as long as you remain blindfolded with the glitters of the Western world, then you will not be able to seek true knowledge and to search for understanding about your circumstances. Without knowledge NIDs cannot know or understand the truth of existence. Without knowing and understanding the truth of existence NIDs cannot gain freedom from the western prison yard to which we are presently, though it seems voluntarily, consigned. It is true in this prison yard we are looking good, we have plenty to eat, to wear and to waste but for goodness sake we are still slaves. We are slaves of a Global System that is forever unforgiving to members of our race; that depends on the enslavement of members of our race for its continuous existence; that rides on the waves of injustice, inequality and slavery; that does not accept the black race as an equal; and that merely tolerates our presence in the western world as long as we know our rightful lowly and subservient positions in the society.

The above are the reasons for my unhappiness. It is indeed true that ignorance is bliss. This writer understands that my contemporaries who are happy, confident, loud, boastful, carefree, arrogant and who feel self-important under these contemptuous circumstances are merely ignorant of their degrading conditions. This category of NIDs therefore need a helping hand, a helping voice and a helping guide to wake them up from their slumbers and to face their unpalatable sub-human situations. These NIDs need to free themselves from ignorance – the most effective weapon of all slave masters. As long as a slave is ignorant of his/her status, the slave owner has no problem. But the day a slave understands his/her circumstances and understands the concepts of freedom, of justice and of equality, from that day henceforth there will be no peace in the slave yard. Fellow Nigerians, the peace around you is the peace of a graveyard. As long as your soul is dead, then it can live easy in the graveyard. However, as soon as it can be woken up, your soul will depart from the graveyard because instinctively it understands that graveyard is not a place for the living but for the dead.

To the unenlightened nationals at home they cannot help but wonder why anyone living abroad is unhappy. Why should anyone be feeling shame and unease in the land of everything? It is very simple. Any black person who has not lost the ability to listen and to follow the news and current affairs in the western world would feel shame. Any black person who can follow the popular debates and can think along with the discussants cannot miss the salient prejudices and the undisguised superiority complexes on racial matters. This writer has learnt to think, to reason and to understand the various covert and overt nuances of the culture of the people with whom he lives and works. He has learnt to understand when he is been slighted, humoured, patronised, insulted, and denigrated under every disguise and pretence. And if any NID has not completely lost his/her human dignity and self respect and understands all the bigotry that go on in the name of western civilisation there is no way that black person can feel comfortable in the Western world.

Powerlessness and Hopelessness
This writer is of the opinion that the capacity to give and take love and to enjoy happiness disappears when a person is of the opinion and belief that his/her position in life is hopeless. It is hope that begets love and it is love that can begets power. The desire to struggle and to cut free from the chains of fear or bonds of slavery and to overcome political, social and economic handicaps on our way stems from faith in hope. And it is love that gives the courage and every other power to make things happen. It is under the inspiring power of love that a person will endure every pain as he/she struggles to climb to the mountain top of life for the sake of the beloved. For the sake of the beloved a person willingly gives his/her blood and life to protect, to care and to relieve the pains of the loved one. Without love there can never be enough power to lift a finger for others. It is therefore practically impossible for a loveless person to give anything of himself to others.

These letters are intended to give hope and to point each of us in the direction of love, the bedrock of power. The power to change our persons and our nations is within each of us. This power is not with the politician or with the religious or the traditional leaders, it is within each and every one of us. We must learn to cultivate a conducive environment that can stimulate the birth and the growth of this power. The most appropriate environment is that which encourages a person to be a seeker of the truth of life. Although we said the West is a graveyard to the black persons but it is a graveyard that is decorated with libraries, book-shops, museums, schools, colleges and universities in abundance. These are the escape routes out of the graveyard. Every seeker naturally understands the value of these institutions to power. The popular adage is still very much true – knowledge is power.

In other word, our conceived powerlessness to tackle the issues facing us as a people arises because of the lack of knowledge about who we are and the natural resources we are endowed with. Most problems like the one facing Nigeria can be exceptionally daunting and they are indeed gigantic. They are again sometimes awesomely complex – a hydra-headed type of problem. As you clip one head, like one of those monsters in Greek fables, many new heads are created. This is where appropriate application of knowledge becomes useful.

The knowledge of elementary chemistry and mathematics can be of great help in solving most complex and large problems. The principle of chemistry teaches that a compound is made up of elements while elements are made up of atoms. Again atoms can be broken down into electrons and nucleus. To understand the nature of any compound scientists will break it down into its constituent smallest parts and through learning to understand each small part they learn to understand the whole compound. Similarly, mathematicians have a popular theorem about the whole being the sum of its parts. These scientific principles are equally applicable to social, economic and political issues as well.

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